While former teammate Mark van Bommel talks to the media in the garden of the stately country house in Doorn, Wesley Sneijder puffs out on the terrace. Laughter is never far away with family and friends. Although that was different in the past period. “That corona, to get depressed.”
But now Sneijder has no complaints about attention. The Dutch press has reached out to talk to the record international about his biography, written by Kees Jansma.
In between all the successes – the European Championship play-offs against Scotland in 2003, the Champions League win and the World Cup final in 2010 and third place in 2014 – Sneijder and Jansma are not afraid of the lows.
Suitcases already packed
Such as the 2012 European Championship in Poland and Ukraine. Both played a leading role in this: Sneijder as a frustrated player, Jansma as a mediator between the press and mutinous internationals. “I would have preferred to completely omit that tournament from my book. It was a worthless tournament.”
“I already wanted to get out in Hoenderloo”, Sneijder remembers from the training camp in the run-up to the European final round, where the Orange lost his three group matches. “My cases were already packed. Why? I felt it coming.”
“Everyone knew their place in 2010. Apparently something had changed in 2012. Some players thought they were more entitled to a starting place. If that stays indoors, that’s no problem. But if it comes out, it will be a issue.”
“It only got worse at the tournament,” Sneijder continues. “Everything stands or falls with that first game against Denmark. We played well and had more right to win from the Danes than in 2010. But we lost. And then the turnips were cooked.”
Players who didn’t play thought they should go in, says Sneijder. He prefers not to mention names, but he can guess who they are. Is it sometimes Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart?
“Correct,” says Sneijder reluctantly. “They weren’t entirely wrong either, because they were in good shape. But the trainer decides; he is ultimately responsible. If you see that there are more qualities than shape, you shouldn’t even go.”
Back in the Krakow base camp after the defeat to the Danes, it exploded. During a dinner Huntelaar and Van Bommel almost fisted together. “It was not a fight, because I was in between. Despite my height, I can handle them. I knew then: this will not be okay anymore.”
And then there was also the group around Robin van Persie, who performed strikingly in Krakow and Kharkov with Ibrahim Afellay. Arsenal’s star was transferring to Manchester United during the European Championship and was not speaking to the media.
“I’m not bothered by Van Persie who doesn’t want to go to a press appointment,” said Sneijder. “Nice and important. But what annoys me is the leak to the press, which disrupts the group process. And again, I knew who. Then I would have intervened.”
Maybe national coach Bert van Marwijk should have sent someone away. Huntelaar for example? Sneijder fiercely: “You always mention Huntelaar. He was involved, but I’m not saying he should have been sent away.”
“I think the national coach should have intervened to make a statement and thus bring the peace back. But you can also think: we played well, so I do not change anything and hope that we will win the second game.”
The Orange lost 2-0 to Germany, however. No chance. The helm was turned against Portugal. The jammers played, but the result remained poor: the Orange lost 2-1 – despite Van der Vaart’s opening goal – and was able to go home.
The question arises whether he has learned anything from it. “No, actually not. Suppose I end up in such a situation, then I would also be limping on two thoughts. If the moment is there, you can ask me again. Then we will see what I choose. “
From DHSC to Galatasaray
Today Sneijder is busy with ‘his’ amateur club DHSC in the Utrecht neighborhood of Ondiep. With brother Jeffrey as a trainer, Rodney as a player and son Jessey in youth, he pushed the club from the third division to the league.
But in the future he wants to become a coach of a big club. “First I have to follow that KNVB trainer course. But accelerated, it shouldn’t be too long. And then immediately start as head coach. Throw me in the deep end.”
The 134-fold international experienced successes at clubs such as Ajax, Real Madrid and Internazionale. But when his trainer ambitions are discussed, another former employer comes forward. “When I have all the papers, I know that Galatasaray is also open to it.”
Mourinho at the top
Sneijder, who says he has lost 10 to 15 million euros due to poor investments in Turkish real estate and a restaurant in Ibiza, suddenly sounds serious. “I think Galatasaray is a fantastic club and I definitely want to become a trainer there.” But then the Utrecht coffee comes to the surface again: “I’m not going to play football there anymore.”
He himself worked with the top of the trainers’ guild, with men such as Rafael Benítez, Fatih Terim, Ronald Koeman and Louis van Gaal. “There is one people manager at the top of my list: José Mourinho. How I could keep all of us happy, all 23, I absolutely take that with me.”